The Serpent Seas Of Sick Seasoning Prologue & Chapter: 2

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 2 (v.1) - Can I Just Die in Peace?

Submitted: January 06, 2017

Reads: 84

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Submitted: January 06, 2017

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I jolted awake.  The oxygen-level sensor was blaring its ear-shattering siren and my head was exploding with white-hot daggers.  I needed to get out. Now.  Panic began to rise.  Where was my damn suit? And why wouldn’t that horrid siren stop?  The oxygen—remember.  Oh yeah.  I stumbled from the seat and tripped over something—a diving tank. Oxygen!  I could open the valve and use it breath by breath until I got the suit on.  With the last bit of regained consciousness I could muster, I was able to make the discovery that the valve was already open.  The tank was empty.  Dead fuckin’ empty.

“Goddamn auditors,” I bickered on my way down.

Lina was standing right in front of me.  I was apologizing for something.  She just cried.  I tried to question her—to get her to do anything else but cry, but to no avail.  All I could find words for was the same repeating sentence: “I’m sorry, I am so, so sorry.”  And all she could do was cry.  Endlessly. She couldn’t even hear me; I half-wished I couldn’t hear her as well.  The sound struck an absolutely strong chord in me.  The deepest, strongest, most sorrowful chord I had ever experienced.  The chord that every man feels in his bones when the most valued part of his being is in such an un-fixable misery-state.  Her strained vocal chords provided the words to the sickest, most world-crushing song that ever was to poison the airwaves.  Lina cried.  

I had only ever witnessed her cry at anywhere close to this intensity one time.  That was the day her father died.  Wait—where were we anyhow?  Suddenly I realized the presence of the crowd that had formed—or had they been there all along?  A rather sizeable one.  I began to recognize them: Abby from the café, Captain Scott from the Berg, Professor Harlowitz—my old teacher!  And right beside Lina were my own parents.  

Blast it!  What business did all these people have to be gathered around Lina while she was in such a state?  Give her some goddamn privacy!  Even more, why was not a single soul wearing any color besides Lina with her emerald nautilus earrings—the ones I gave her on the day I asked her to marry me?  Not a single drop of color other than that.  Everyone wore the deepest black.  Lina herself wore the pitch black lacey dress that I had only seen her wear once—on the same occasion that I had seen her crying this hard—her father’s funeral.  Wait, funeral!  That would explain all the blackened crying.  More people than just Lina too.  

What poor soul had passed?  Could it have been Old Man Malone?  That blasted fisherman was as old as the sea itself.  The thought banished itself from my mind as I suddenly spotted him next to Harlowitz.  Well, what about the neighbor boy, Harold?  The poor young man had received four brain surgeries already before his seventeenth birthday.  Absolutely tragic.  Must have lost the battle—no, no, there he was tucked in between his brothers in the crowd.  Wheelchair and all.  Well if not them, then who?! And why was I not invited!  I found myself quickly offended for once.  Lina, of all people, to not want me beside her in a time of such apparent grief.  Rage began to build up in me.  

I rushed over to my father and grabbed him by the shoulders, shaking him and screaming “What is the meaning of this?!”  To my utter bewilderment and further fueling my rage, I found that I could not get him to budge.  I tried again.  No use.  He was moving alright, but all on his own.  He spasmed and convulsed as if stricken with an epileptic fit of violent seizures.  There were tears streaming down his face as well, falling into his open hands which were held in such a way as if asking “Did I do this?”  The sight froze me.  Everyone close to me I have seen in or close to this state before, except my father.  He had experienced numerous deaths that I had known about in his life but he had never let himself shed a visible tear.  It wasn’t because he had no capability of feeling sorrow or pain, for he was the most honorable and kindhearted man I knew, it was because he had never before lost a son.  I couldn’t take my eyes off him—my own painful crying eyes. My anger was extinct—replaced with the shared utter hopelessness of my surrounding loved ones.  

The air was catching in my chest.  “Must be all the people in here.  Stuffy air,” I thought to myself.  

Suddenly, I heard my name.  The desire for acknowledgement had turned to dread.  I did not turn around.  I heard it again.  Then again.  My name repeating over and over until my ears could not take it anymore.  And I caved.  

Roy was striding toward me.  I knew it was him, but something was different.  He lacked that crimson glimmer in is eye that was always the precursor to some good-natured joke or imitation.

“Erich,” he said one final time.  “Look over there.”  

I couldn’t.  I could only stare at his near-lifeless features.  

“Roy, what the hell is the matter with you?  I’m not worthy of an insulting greeting anymore?  Come on, man, give me your best mongaloid face.  Show me you’re still an idiot.  Shit, call me an asshole!  What the fuck is going on?! With everyone!? And why wasn’t I invited, goddamnit, I still want to know!”

 

My tears were coming down exponentially harder.  

“Look over there, Erich.”

“No!  Tell me what is going on!  Why was I not invited!”

You invited them, Erich.  Now LOOK to your left!”

I snapped around to find myself staring back at me.  I had a wooden frame around me and I was propped up on a stand.  My graduation portrait.  Taken just days ago at my ceremony.  It had been the one and only time I had ever let anyone talk me into wearing that suffocating tux.  The tux that I had joked with Lina about saying the next and last time I would put it on would be for my funeral.  I looked down at myself and I was wearing it.  

Slowly, my gaze ventured further left past the portrait and landed on a flower-engulfed casket.  It was empty.  Of all the strange feelings I had ever experienced throughout my entire short life, none compared to the absolute deepest desire I suddenly felt to lie down in that beautiful walnut coffin.  With my tear-clouded vision, I took one last glance around the crowd, sick with the sinkingly comfortable knowledge that I had the power to do nothing for them.  I paused on Lina until I couldn’t stand it for a second longer and then lifted myself up and into the cushy bed in which I was to take my final rest.  I made sure to avoid disturbing the flowers as they had been put there with the greatest care—the last thing anyone could do for me.  The last sight my expired eyes were to see was the pallid, joyless, tear-stained face of Roy Dapner as he closed the coffin lid for me.  

“Thank you Roy, I guess they don’t need to put handles inside these things huh?” I said as I closed my eyes and let out my final struggled breath.

The instant I closed my eyes and made the final choice to accept my fate I found myself being violently shaken.

“Erich! Erich wake up!”

“No, Roy, what the fuck!  You were just letting me die and now I can’t even do that?!  Get off, it’s over!”

“I came back for you, man!  I promised I would!”

“But the air!” I screamed, choking.

“I knew the oxygen generator was dead so I cracked that tank next to your ass hoping it would be enough, but goddamn it I knew I should have popped two!”

I didn’t remember seeing an oxygen tank at my funeral, strange.  Seemed pointless with the whole me dying and everything—not breathing air anymore and all.  I laughed.

“Hahayeah, that shit’s old news!  Oxygen in a coffin….hahaha!”

“Goddamn it, Erich, wake up!”

The feeling of something spindly backed with tremendous force striking my face very solidly suddenly took my laughing mind off the oxygen situation.

“Hey what the fuck, man!  Who hits a dead guy in the face?!  That’s illogical,” I yelled.

“Shut up, man.  You aren’t dead.  Let me prove it!”

“He has a good point, dead guys’ faces don’t ache so bad from blows.  Damn, that was a good one!”

Without realizing I said that out loud, I heard Roy retort back.

“Yeah?  See the logic now? Well how about you taste some logic!”

And with that I tasted fire.  In fact, the entirety of my mouth, nose, throat, and lungs tasted fire.  Flame Brew.  The stuff of every man’s hangover nightmare.  It was a lingering debate as to which was worse: hurling it in the morning or downing it the night before.  I was alive alright.  Even if I hadn’t been a few minutes ago, I sure was now.  

Coughing and sputtering uncontrollably, my eyes flashed open just long enough to see Roy Dapner’s face turn as crimson as a casket and disappear into one of his famous doubled-over laugh attacks.  I’d be recovered and ready to die again—a natural geriatric death this time—by the time he was done.  

I decided to take this length of time to check out my surroundings.  After a few fiery cough attacks I achingly sat up, rubbing my temples.  Slowly, my constricted eye-muscles relaxed enough to allow me a sliver of foggy vision.  What I could see relieved me--the fact that I could see anything!Roy must have gotten us to the surface somehow--somewhere. There was light!  Whatever beach we were on was of sharp gravel and the air was a stale breeze of salt with an acrid tinge of decayed fish and....something else I'd smelled before but could not place--a strange chemically organic smell..  

As my eyes relaxed and became less and less foggy, I was able to make out more details of our beach.  First of all, it wasn't a beach as I had originally thought--at least not an ordinary ocean beach.  It was a cave floor with a beach.  A few yards behind me was the water, an unmoving sheet of black chrome glass.  Wedged  between two jagged crops of rock about 30 yards out, halfway out of the water, was the Valcon VI.

"Roy!! The sub! What the hell happened to the sub?! Where are we!"  I suddenly burst out, my mind furiously kicking into gear again.  "I remember the tunnel and the wreck and..and the shark and the...the..the...Roy what the hell was the other thing? Everything's a blur after that...did we hit something or what?"

Roy's laughter had ceased and he was laying on his back, fingers laced together behind his head.  Asleep.

"Roy!!"

His eyes shot open as if by electric shock and his legs kicked out as he scrambled backwards to his feet, his head darting side to side.  His gaze landed on me.

"Holy damn, Man!" he screamed, relaxing his stance.  "You come around quick!  Thought you were still tryna figure out your eyes and shit, then BAM! What you gotta do that to me for, Man?!"

"Roy the sub!! What happened to my sub!  Its stuck out there in the water!  Where is this place??" I demanded.

"We umm...lost control..  I dunno what exactly we hit, or if...something hit us..." He trailed off.

"What? What would have hit us?  I don't remember a thing!  I remember the shark, we scared it...you think it came around and attacked us or something?" I asked.

"Or something, Erich...or something...yea"

"Well WHAT??  What's the something!"

Roy sat down and scooted closer, facing me.  He nervously looked around, very unlike his usual behavior.

"Erich, we didn't scare the shark.  Something else uhh...something else did."

He looked at me with that same nervousness.

"Huh? What the hell are you talking about? Just tell me what happ--"

"It had teeth, Man!! Big ass ones!"  Roy interrupted."And a flipper or claw or something! I dunno what the hell but it did it for me...it really did it for me, Man.  I tried to maneuver around it but I over-pulled and lost control...just barely managed to make it through another tunnel or two...I dunno how many times I hit, but I had to get away from that thing...I'm so sorry!  The way that damn shark took off from it though...i couldn't believe it.."

He slid down onto his back and covered his face with his hands again.

 

 


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